I don’t know if it’s because the holidays are coming up, or if there’s something in the air, but a large portion of my friends have recently gotten engaged. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s fantastic. Really. I am so happy they found and picked the person they want to be with for the rest of their lives. But at the same time, it has left a lot of my single friends feeling like they don’t have their lives together.
I’m here to tell you that it’s OK to not have your life — especially your love life — figured out in your 20s. In fact, a good portion of us are still working our way through that department. Don’t worry, that doesn’t make you any less loved or worthy, it just means the right time or situation hasn’t occurred for you yet.
I somehow fall under the first half of the equation where the right time in my life to get engaged and married hasn’t quite worked its way out yet. I’m still in school, and I plan to spend two and a half more years in graduate school. My significant other of four years has a full-time job halfway across the state. We make it work, but we’re in no way ready to get married right now, and that’s OK. For most, marriage is a lifetime commitment. This is why you should make sure the timing is right for you and your partner. There’s no book that says after a certain amount of time spent dating you have to get married. Take the time you need to ensure you’re at a point in your life where you’re ready to enter into marriage.
The second half of the equation is whether you’re in the right situation. This could mean the person you started seeing might be your future spouse but you aren’t quite sure, or that you’re dating and enjoying your youth without having to worry about commitment. In both cases you aren’t in the right situation to get married, which is fine. Being single or dating with a sparing amount of luck doesn’t mean you’re damaged goods, it just means your situation isn’t right. You’re young and you’re allowed to make mistakes and memories when it comes to dating. It’s all part of the journey.
In either case, I’d like you to keep in mind that it’s not the end of the world if you’re not married in your twenties or thirties or even if you decide you don’t ever want to get married. It’s a commitment that, if done successfully, should last a long time. Remember, if it’s not the right time for you, that’s perfectly fine.
The worst thing you can do is try to force something out of a relationship, only for it to fall apart completely. Take your time — there isn’t a finish line and sometimes the best ones are picked last.
I’m not in any way anti-marriage. In fact, I think it’s a beautiful concept and I wish the people in their early and mid-20s who are embarking on that next step all the best of luck, but dear readers, I hope if you’re not one of them that you don’t beat yourself up about it or feel unworthy because of it. Instead, I hope you enjoy the bridal showers with their floral towel gifts and pumpkin bread. I hope you are able to put your fears and concerns aside and be happy for your friends that are stepping into this next portion of their lives. You just need to keep in mind that your time will come or might not if you decide marriage isn’t for you.
Your life, including your love life, will work itself out over the years. Stop worrying about it and enjoy college, or your first real full-time job, or whatever else will be thrown your way in the next few years.
Sara Marino is a UF journalism senior. Her column appears on Wednesdays.